Board votes on what's to come at WIU

Board votes on what's to come at WIU (file photo)

The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees held an open board meeting Friday to address many concerns.

The board decided to hold off on staff reductions and approved a tuition discount along with capital budget recommendations during the five-hour meeting.

Staff cuts were the reason several school faculty members said they attended the meeting.

"I work for a university that has a union, UPI Local 4100. We have a contract and our contract has a process for which people should be laid off and that process has not been followed," Susan Czechowski, a 15-year WIU professor, said.

WIU President Dr, Jack Thomas said school officials met with the University Professionals of Illinois about how they can offset those reductions and save as many employees as possible.

"We want to exhaust all of the options possible and opportunities, too, that we can use in terms of finding funds that we can use to offset the cost," Dr. Thomas said.

Dr. Thomas requested a resolution authorizing staff reduction be postponed until a special Board of Trustees meeting scheduled for next month.

The date has not yet been set but will follow additional discussion between the University administration and collective bargaining units.

The board also voted on a tuition recommendation that will drop tuition costs for incoming undergraduate students.

WIU Budget Director Matt Bierman said the cost of tuition will be reduced by three percent for incoming undergraduate students enrolled for the 2016-2017 school year.

"We're trying to market ourselves in a way that we are the affordable choice for regional education in Illinois," Bierman said.

In addition, the board settled on capital budget recommendations which include construction and remodeling of various parts of campus costing a total of $344.9 million in state funding.

Those recommendations will be presented to the Illinois Board of Higher Education, the state legislature and the Governor.

The board also approved the demolition and deconstruction of Higgins, Lamoine Village and East Village.

Spirtas Wrecking of St. Louis will demolish Higgins at a cost of $1.5 million.

Renascent, Inc. of Indianapolis will demolish East Village at a cost of $259,150.

Hood Demolition and Excavation of Rushville will demolish East Village at a cost of $259,150.

The university said the project will be paid for using auxiliary funds.

The replacement of the lower bleachers in Western Hall also was approved for no more than $720,000.

That project will be funded through facility enhancement and life safety fee.

After the meeting, Dr. Thomas explained what comes next.

"We are going to be meeting with UPI, and I'll be talking with other entities here at the university and try to come up with many ways to make cuts elsewhere. As well as try to save as many employees as possible," Thomas said.

The next regular meeting of the Board of Trustees is March 10-11, 2016 in Macomb.

Related stories:

WIU President asks Board to table layoffs (

Layoffs expected at WIU due to state budget issues (

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